Optica

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2015 - 2016

Programming

Julien Discrit
from September 1st 2016 to October 8th 2016

Simon Belleau
from September 1st 2016 to October 8th 2016

Edith Brunette
from September 1st 2016 to December 31st 2017


from September 3rd 2016 to September 5th 2016


from September 8th 2016 to September 8th 2016

Les samedis famille + Journées de la culture
from September 10th 2016 to October 8th 2016

Knut Åsdam
from October 20th 2016 to January 14th 2017


from October 29th 2016 to January 14th 2017

Exposition des élèves de 5e et de 6e année de l'école Saint-Enfant-Jésus (Mile End) sur une proposition d'Étienne Tremblay-Tardif
from December 2nd 2016 to December 17th 2016

Horaire du Temps des fêtes | Holiday Season Schedule
from December 18th 2016 to January 2nd 2017

Nelson Henricks
from January 28th 2017 to March 25th 2017

Jim Holyoak
from January 28th 2017 to March 25th 2017

Exposition des élèves de 3e année de l’École Buissonnière (Mile End) sur une proposition de Jim Holyoak
from March 16th 2017 to March 25th 2017

Nadège Grebmeier Forget
Ursula Johnson
Autumn Knight
Michelle Lacombe
Mikhel Proulx

Commissaire | Curator : Nicole Burisch

from April 21st 2017 to June 10th 2017

Nadège Grebmeier Forget
le May 27th 2017

Caroline Mauxion
from November 11th 2017 to December 16th 2017

Teja Gavankar
from November 11th 2017 to December 16th 2017

Arnait Video Collective (Women’s Video Workshop of Igloolik)
Bertille Bak
Lisa Jackson
Yoshua Okón
Helen Reed

Commissaire | Curator : Zoë Chan

from January 20th 2018 to March 17th 2018




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Julien Discrit, Animation (détail), 2016
Image tirée de la vidéo, vidéo 4k, couleur, son. | Video still, 4k video, color, sound.
Avec l'aimable permission de l'artiste et de la Galerie Anne-Sarah Bénichou|
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Anne-Sarah Bénichou

Julien Discrit
from September 1st 2016 to October 8th 2016
Nature. Culture.

Borrowing by turns from installation, performance, photography, and video, Julien Discrit’s work draws on the potential for dialogue between the humanities and the natural sciences and proposes art as a topos by which the two fields may interact. His art practice examines the gap between the actual experience of a territory and its visual or material representation, going on to investigate the divisions between ideas and practices, between concepts and percepts.

For his work presented at OPTICA, Discrit focuses on the Möbius strip (or band), a paradigmatic object in topology. Flourishing in the nineteenth century, the science of topology was concerned with the possibility for continuous transformation of space. The strip featured in this work bears the name of German mathematician August Ferdinand Möbius, who submitted the discovery as his own to the French Academy of Sciences in 1858. While the strip remained an object of fascination for mathematicians throughout the 19th century, it was quickly taken up by some very influential thinkers in the human and social sciences. Lacanian psychoanalysis, for instance, uses the Möbius strip as a spatialization model for the work of the unconscious. 1 As for formal dimensions of Discrit’s video, they refer to a series of drawings and woodcuts produced by M.C. Escher in the early 1960s depicting nine red ants crawling along a Möbius strip, usually placed vertically.

Following a precise contortion, the Möbius strip—which becomes a felt space in the video— reveals the cyclical relationship between the physical elaboration of a mathematical concept, its reuse in the social sciences, its potential artistic representations, and the experience it can afford as a physical phenomenon. Conjuring these various contexts simultaneously, Discrit’s proposition highlights the connections between mathematical abstraction and organic realism, the artist stating that “any conception emanating from the psyche must be based on its grounding in the body, by the sensory perception of a concrete and external object.” 2

1. See, among others, Jacques LACAN (2001 [1972]), “L’étourdit”, Autres écrits. Paris: Seuil, pp. 449-495.
2. Our translation. Fernande SAINT-MARTIN (2010), L’immersion dans l’art. Comment donner sens aux œuvres de sept artistes. Québec: Presses de l’Université de Québec, p. 4.

Author: Daniel Fiset
Daniel Fiset is an art historian and educator. He lives and works in Montreal.

Translator: Ron Ross

COMMUNIQUÉ DE PRESSE (pdf)

Julien Discrit was born in 1978 in Épernay, France. A graduate from the École supérieure d’art et design de Reims (2004), he lives and works in Paris. His works have been the subject of solo exhibitions (Ensapc Ygrec, Paris, 2015; Institut français de Roumanie, Bucarest, 2006; Jeu de Paume, Paris, 2005) and group shows (Centre Pompidou-Metz, 2016; Galerie Thomas Henry Ross, Montreal, 2014; Fundación Proa, Buenos Aires, 2012; La Biennale de Lyon, 2011).


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Simon Belleau, Film Still (détail), 2016
Impression jet d'encre, 43 x 36 cm| Inkjet print, 43 x 36 cm.
Avec l'aimable permission de l'artiste | Courtesy of the artist.

Simon Belleau
from September 1st 2016 to October 8th 2016
SOIF

The Royal moth has no mouth.
Royal Saturniid caterpillars will eat until surrender. Melting and rearranging themselves with the raw materials of their adolescence, they reappear, fuzzy and fat, with a silent face and no digestive tract. Insatiable, burdened with an impossible itinerary, they make slow triangles and moon eyes, executing the gesture of their singular potential.

And they will fuck until they die, still thirsty.

Mars lost his war and his atmosphere fled, drying up promises of a dazzling garden and leaving behind dire warnings in a red oxide dust.

The amount of available moisture in an enclosed room is recorded on every surface, and every surface is recorded in the whole of the eye. Seeing requires attention, recognition, interpretation. It also requires an image, even one not there, and at least one orifice.

At its center, Simon Belleau’s work travels in two separate but simultaneous directions; pulling focus both inward and outward. Inward, towards the core of desire, past hunger and sex, towards death; and outward, through narrative, language and the production of the image. It is here, in his careful negotiation between the image and the act of production, that Belleau’s installations become an act of transmutation: a mushroom erupts from a tactical dry bag and time becomes material; your eye travels swiftly over the steely surface of an unreflective mirror, drinking in humidity and time, turning obligatory sips of water into corrosion; the stone foot of Michelangelo’s David is suspended in motion, set in a singular film still.

In Antonioni and Wender’s film, Beyond the Clouds, the narrator, a director himself, muses, “[W]e know that behind every image revealed, there is another image more faithful to reality, and in the back of that image there is another, and yet another behind the last one, and so on, up to the true image of the absolute mysterious reality that no-one will ever see.”

Our desire for that last true image ruptures any stillness and shatters the blank mirror on the floor. It is quite the gift, to leave your gaze resting on the floor like that, with no obligation to harbor it when it labors back.

Author: Elena Ailes
Elena Ailes is interested in both that which makes her a better person and a worse person, especially in theory. In reality, she is an artist and writer living and working in Chicago.

COMMUNIQUÉ DE PRESSE (pdf)

Conseil des arts du Canada



Simon Belleau has exhibited in several solo and group exhibitions in Canada, the United States, and Europe. He is the recipient of the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Trust Scholar Award, a Project Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Contest jeune tête d’affiche from Dazibao. Currently based in Chicago, he is the co-founder of the curatorial project Jeux d’été.


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Edith Brunette, 2016

Edith Brunette
from September 1st 2016 to December 31st 2017

In partnership with OPTICA, artist Edith Brunette will undertake a documentation and art intervention project during the coming year in which she attempts to bring the worlds of art and multimedia closer together. This project falls in line with the artist’s ongoing focus on the economy of the art milieu.


Edith Brunette blends her art practice with theoretical research. Concerned with the discourses at work in the arts and with the political forces and power relationships they reveal, her recent projects have dealt, among other things, with video surveillance (Caméraroman, 2011), speaking out in times of social crisis (Consensus, 2012) and artists’ political agency (Faut-il se couper la langue?, 2013; Cuts Make the Country Better, 2015, in collaboration with François Lemieux).




from September 3rd 2016 to September 5th 2016
Closed on Saturday, September 3rd - Labour Day

Please note that OPTICA will be closed on Saturday September 3, 2016 due to Labour Day.

Regular opening hours will resume on Tuesday September 6, 2016.

Thank you for your understanding.


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from September 8th 2016 to September 8th 2016
Rentrez! de Gaspé - New cultural Season - 5 pm to Midnight

On September 8, come celebrate and kick off the new cultural season with Atelier Circulaire, Centre CLARK, Dazibao, Diagonale, Occurrence, OPTICA, Perte de signal and TOPO.

Openings, outstanding exhibitions, video mapping, an overflowing bar and a DJ, food, friends, mingling, a party and maybe even a little bit of dancing!

Join us for this festive evening!

See you Thursday, September 8 from 5 pm at 5445-5455 de Gaspé Avenue (Ground floor).

EVERYONE IS WELCOME
FREE ADMISSION

PROGRAMMING

Dj TELEMARK from 8 pm

Live video mapping with userZero and Danny Perreault

ATELIER CIRCULAIRE
Rolande Pelletier et Mathieu Matthew Conway – Formes primes

CENTRE CLARK
Jen Aitken – 2 volumes + Michelle Lacombe – Of All The Watery Bodies, I Only Know My Own

DAZIBAO
Ali-El Darsa + Gabriela Golder + Roberto Santguida + Sandra Volny

DIAGONALE
We Make Carpets – BEND AND STRETCH

OCCURRENCE
Michel Archambault – Stigma + Jérôme Nadeau – Still Statues

OPTICA
Simon Belleau – SOIF + Julien Discrit – Nature. Culture.

PERTE DE SIGNAL
Yannick Jaquet et Frédéric Penelle – Mécaniques discursives

TOPO
Julien-Robert Legault-Salvail – Fit in the crowd




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Photo : Daniel Fiset

Les samedis famille + Journées de la culture
from September 10th 2016 to October 8th 2016
Tour and Creative Family activity at OPTICA

Explore living movement during a workshop tour of the exhibitions of Simon Belleau and Julien Discrit. With the centre’s mediator in attendance, you will see elements transform before your eyes, from proliferating mushrooms that take strange shapes to colossal ants going on a stroll. In a friendly, playful environment, you’ll then take part in the creation of a collaborative installation inspired by the Moebius Strip and the connections between art and the natural sciences.  

Let your creativity take over OPTICA—we’re counting on it! The workshop is open to the whole family and will run continually. Feel free to join in at any time. 

PRACTICAL INFORMATION
Saturdays
September 10 – 1 pm to 4 pm
October – 1 :30 pm to 3 pm – Journées de la culture
October 8 -1 pm to 4 pm  

Free
For children aged 4 and older.

For more information, please contact Daniel Fiset: mediation@optica.ca

OUR ANNUAL PROGRAMMING (pdf)

OPTICA's educational program is supported by the ministère de la Culture et des Communications and the City of Montreal as part of the Entente sur le développement culturel de Montréal, and the Caisse Desjardins du Plateau-Mont-Royal.



Entente sur le développement art3




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© Knut Åsdam, Egress (détail), 2013
Film numérique 5K à 2K, couleur, 5.1. audio, 41:00 minutes
Produit par Knut Åsdam, co-produit par Vitakuben Film
Avec l'aimable permission de l'artiste

Cette oeuvre est protégée par le droit d'auteur et il est strictement interdit de la reproduire.

© Knut Åsdam, Egress (detail), 2013
5K to 2K digital film, colour, 5.1 audio, 41:00 minutes
Produced by Knut Åsdam, co-produced by Vitakuben Film
Courtesy of the artist

Copyright laws protect this art work and it is strictly forbidden to copy or reproduce this image.

Knut Åsdam
from October 20th 2016 to January 14th 2017
Biennale de Montréal - Le Grand Balcon

The Biennale de Montréal and OPTICA present Knut Åsdam as part of BNLMTL 2016, Le Grand Balcon.

Curator: Philippe Pirotte

Knut Åsdam is a filmmaker, installation artist, sculptor and photographer. The central focus of his work tracks the psychological and material effects of everyday life in contemporary society. Åsdam investigates, through diverse forms, the usage and perception of public urban spaces, including their structure of political power and authority. For this occasion his films Egress (2013) and Tripoli (2010) are presented.

Egress follows the life of a young woman whose job at a gas station on the outskirts of Oslo makes her both witness and subject to consumerism, social hierarchies, the repetition and alienation of daily life, violence, and the insecurity belying the sanitized appearance of the location. Consisting of documentary material, this experimental film focuses at once on a place and on the characters to approach the experience of work in today’s society, but also the highly hierarchical oil industry and its locus of power.

For its part, Tripoli unfolds in the city of Tripoli in northern Lebanon, more precisely on the site of a major architectural project associated with the famous Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer, and interrupted in 1975 due to the civil war. Combining documentary language on architecture and a meeting of narrative fragments, the film metaphorically brings to life the charged past of this place, which was used as a weapons depot during the war and whose political echoes and violence reverberate in today’s society.

PRESS RELEASE(pdf)

Biennale de Montréal Office for Contemporary art Norway



Born in Trondheim (Norway) in 1968, Knut Åsdam lives and works in Oslo. His work has been shown widely, in solo exhibitions including as part of the project Oslo Pilot, Oslo (2016); at Šiuolaikinio meno centras kino (Lithuania, 2013); Galerija Vartai (Lituania, 2012); Tate Modern (England, 2011); Bergen Kunsthall (Norway, 2010); Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (Netherlands, 2007); Objectif Exhibitions (Belgium, 2006); Fonds régional d’art contemporain de Bourgogne (France, 2006); Kunsthalle Bern (Switzerland, 2005); Museet For Samtidskunst (Norway, 2001); Tate Britain (England, 2000); Nordic Pavilion as part of the 48th Venice Biennale (Italia, 1999); and at the Norwegian Pavilion as part of Melbourne International Biennial (Australia, 1999). Åsdam’s work has also been featured in Manifesta 7 (Italia, 2007) and in group exhibitions at Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma (Italia, 2007); MoMA PS1 (United States, 2006); Istanbul Biennial (Turkey, 2003); Moderna Museet (Sweden, 1998-1999); and Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (France, 1998).

http://www.knutasdam.net



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Photo : Julie Alary Lavallée


from October 29th 2016 to January 14th 2017
Family Saturdays - Conception of a 3d Collaborative Storyboard Workshop

The places in our everyday lives are possessed of stories that yearn to be told. Accompanied by the gallery’s educator, young participants will be introduced to the art of directing and take part in the conception of a 3D, collaborative storyboard. A modular mock-up will be installed at the centre, which youth will be invited to transform or to embellish as they invent characters and weave their tall tales.

Come tell us your stories!

The workshop is open to the whole family and will run continually.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION
Every Saturday from October 29, 2016 to January 14, 2017
Closed on December 24 and 31, 2016

From 1 pm to 4 pm
Feel free to join in at any time.  

Free
For children aged 4 and older.

For more information, please contact Daniel Fiset: mediation@optica.ca

OUR ANNUAL PROGRAMMING (pdf)

OPTICA's educational program is supported by the ministère de la Culture et des Communications and the City of Montreal as part of the Entente sur le développement culturel de Montréal, and the Caisse Desjardins du Plateau-Mont-Royal.



Entente sur le développement art3




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Photo : Daniel Fiset, 2016

Exposition des élèves de 5e et de 6e année de l'école Saint-Enfant-Jésus (Mile End) sur une proposition d'Étienne Tremblay-Tardif
from December 2nd 2016 to December 17th 2016
Artiste à l'école

Opening, Tuesday December 2, 2016 from 5pm to 6pm

ENGLISH TRANSLATION SOON TO COME

Cet automne, une soixantaine de jeunes de 5e et 6e année de l’école Saint-Enfant-Jésus participeront à un projet créatif conçu par Étienne Tremblay-Tardif dans le cadre du programme Artiste à l’école.

Le projet s’inspire des oeuvres de l’artiste qui recourt à divers procédés en art de l’impression et en installation pour réfléchir à l'enchevêtrement de l’histoire et de l’actualité politique et culturelle dans certains espaces publics. Dans le cadre du programme, les jeunes prendront d’abord part à des activités d’observation architecturale afin de voir leur école et leur quartier sous un angle nouveau. Ils et elles concevront ensuite des pochoirs et fabriqueront des assemblages inspirés de leurs découvertes, témoignant des réalités architecturales et sociales de leur environnement immédiat.

Les oeuvres des élèves seront présentées au public lors d’un vernissage qui aura lieu le 2 décembre 2016, de 17h à 18h et seront exposées au centre jusqu’au 17 décembre 2016.

OPTICA tient à remercier le personnel et les élèves de l’école Saint-Enfant-Jésus, et plus particulièrement Nadine Legendre, enseignante en arts plastiques avec qui nous collaborons depuis 2014.

For more information, please contact Daniel Fiset: mediation@optica.ca

OPTICA's educational program is supported by the ministère de la Culture et des Communications and the City of Montreal as part of the Entente sur le développement culturel de Montréal, and the Caisse Desjardins du Plateau-Mont-Royal.



Entente sur le développement art3






Horaire du Temps des fêtes | Holiday Season Schedule
from December 18th 2016 to January 2nd 2017

Please note that OPTICA will be closed from Sunday December 18 to Monday January 2nd. Until then, we wish a great holiday season!




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Nelson Henricks, Life Session, 2016.
Film 16mm, 2 minutes 30 secondes| 16mm film, 2 minutes 30 secondes
Avec l'aimable permission de l'artiste | Courtesy of the artist

Nelson Henricks
from January 28th 2017 to March 25th 2017
Life Session

Nelson Henricks installation takes its title from Falcon Film #615, Life Session (1977). Falcon Entertainment – also known as Falcon Studios – is based in San Francisco, California. Founded by the entrepreneur Chuck Holmes in 1971, Falcon Studios is one of the world’s largest producers of gay pornography. By the early 1980s, it had distinguished itself as a frontrunner at a time when distributing pornography was a criminal offence. Holmes was active in supporting politics at a local and national level, even helping to finance Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in the 1990s.

Falcon Studios was criticized for their slowness in adopting safe sex practices during the early 1980s. As a consequence, many actors associated with the studio died in the first years of the epidemic. Before dying of AIDS-related illness in 2000, Holmes directed a large portion of his fortune towards philanthropic causes, funding HIV/AIDS outreach programs and other community initiatives. The Charles M. Holmes building at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center is named in his honor.

Via widespread mail order distribution, Falcon Studios contributed to the construction of a gay male aesthetic, a style that originated in San Francisco’s Castro District. Porn offered men living outside major urban centres images of gay lifestyles at a time when representations of this kind were scarce. In this sense, these films were affirmative and enabling in the formation of gay identity and aesthetics. Today, the porn industry rivals Hollywood as an image economy, generating between $2 billion and $4 billion annually worldwide.

Henricks’ Life Session is based on the first two minutes of the original ten-minute Falcon film. With the aid of several assistants, pencil drawings were made of this excerpt: these images became the basis for an animated film. The installation features a 16mm loop of the redrawn animated sequences intercut with the live action footage from the original film, as well as a series of preparatory drawings. Life Session examines the myth of the artist in popular culture via the framework of an artist drawing a film of an artist drawing a model.

COMMUNIQUÉ DE PRESSE (pdf)

Artist, author, and curator Nelson Henricks is best knows for his videograms and video installations. Works by Henricks, which have been shown around the world, can be found in the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), the MoMA (New York), and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. He lives and works in Montreal. He is represented by Paul Petro Contemporary Art, Toronto.


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Jim Holyoak, Book of Nineteen Nocturnes, 2002-2016
Roman illustré, 500 pages, divisé en 19 feuillets reliés en accordéon, encre de Chine,
graphite, aquarelle, impression jet d’encre et collage sur papier,
30,48 x 43,18 x 30,48 cm.
Hand-drawn novel, 500 pages long, divided into 19 accordion books, India ink, graphite, watercolour, ink-jet prints, and collaged text on paper, 30,48 x 43,18 x 30,48 cm.
Avec l'aimable permission de
l'artiste | Courtesy of the artist

Jim Holyoak
from January 28th 2017 to March 25th 2017
Book of Nineteen Nocturnes

An inveterate night-owl and somewhat of a loner, Jim Holyoak works like a prowling cat: in tune with the shadows, his muffled movements hardly breaking the star-lit silence. In his wake, one usually finds formidable mural frescos bustling with curious life forms, suspended between terrestrial deep time and imagined future configurations rising from the ferment of life’s potentialities. His pictorial universe translates a fascinating empathy for all forms of life—extinct, current, and imagined—and a willingness to plumb their inherent strangeness. Holyoak inhabits an tremulous, evolving, hetero-chronic world that he renders for us in sensitive gestures of India-ink, graphite, and watercolour. If his mural installations sometimes derive from collaborative work, his constant production of sketches drawn from life reflects a rather hidden dimension of his sensory world. His sketches document his perambulations in the wilds of Northern Europe, China, Canada, and testify to an existential solitude imbuing these contemplative travels. At OPTICA, the accumulated drawings form the substratum of an epic narrative in nineteen chapters presented in the form of a mysterious archive.

A tentative, uncertain, and vaguely autobiographical odyssey, Book of Nineteen Nocturnes tells a story of wandering, a search for belonging, that ultimately results in the discovery of one’s own very intimate otherness. At the intersection of Lewis Caroll, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Guillermo del Toro, this travel narrative draws heterogenous, aeonic memories of Earth’s deep time into a monstrous, supernatural and dreamlike universe. As in a post-humanist dream, trees show off their capacity for reason, sensitive matter mingles with the living, species fuse into complex hybrids that defy classification. In the form of a tale, he reveals a twilight world where “reality,” merging with dreams and diverging from appearances, becomes a fleeting concept, intelligible only through a differed or displaced gaze. In this sense, Book of Nineteen Nocturnes echoes a long line of philosophical interrogations of the real, whether the latter be cosmic, quantum, or metaphysical.

Author: Gentiane Bélanger

Art historian Gentiane Bélanger is the director/curator of the Foreman Art Gallery at Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke.

Traductor: Ron Ross

COMMUNIQUÉ DE PRESSE (pdf)

REVUE DE PRESSE

KOZINSKA, Dorota. "Something's Stirring In The Night Or Jim Holyoak's Nocturnal Musings". Vie des arts, February, 21, 2017.

L’HEUREUX, Chantal. Interview with Jim Holyoak. Magazine radio In situ. Radio Centre-Ville, CINQ - Radio Centre Ville 102.3 FM, March 22, 2017.

L’HEUREUX, Chantal. "Événements". Magazine radio In situ. Radio Centre-Ville, CINQ - Radio Centre Ville 102.3 FM, March 20 – 26, 2017.



Originally from Aldergrove, British Columbia, Jim Holyoak lives and works in Montreal. His works are widely circulated in Canada, the United States, and Northern Europe, particularly at the bG Gallery (Santa Monica, California) and Centre Clark (Montreal). He holds an MFA in visual arts from Concordia University (2011), a degree from Álfaskólinn, the Icelandic Elf School in Reykjavik, in Elf and Hidden people studies, and has studied ink wash painting in Yangshuo, China.


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Crédit photo : Daniel Fiset

Exposition des élèves de 3e année de l’École Buissonnière (Mile End) sur une proposition de Jim Holyoak
from March 16th 2017 to March 25th 2017
Artiste à l'école

Opening on Thursday March 16th, 2017 from 5 pm to 6 pm

This winter, fifty or so third-graders from École Buissonnière (Mile End) will participate in a creative project developed by Jim Holyoak as part of the Artist at School program.

The children will explore the formal potentialities of India ink by collaborating on the creation of a large mural inspired by the artist’s singular iconography. After a few exercises to familiarize themselves with ink work, the schoolchildren will transform their individual drawings into a collective effort at inventing a new bestiary. Their work will be presented to the public during an opening at the centre, to be held in March 2017.

The works of the students will be presented to the public during a vernissage that will take place on March 16th, 2017, from 5 pm to 6 pm and will be exhibited at the center until March 25th, 2017.

OPTICA would like to thank the staff and students of l'École Buissonnière.

For more information, please contact Daniel Fiset: mediation@optica.ca

The educational program is supported by the ministère de la Culture et des Communications and the City of Montreal as part of the Entente sur le développement culturel de Montréal, and la Caisse Desjardins du Plateau-Mont-Royal.


Entente sur le développement art3





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Autumn Knight, Documents, 2016
Photo : Lynn Lane
Avec l'aimable permission de l'artiste | Courtesy of the artist

Nadège Grebmeier Forget
Ursula Johnson
Autumn Knight
Michelle Lacombe
Mikhel Proulx

Commissaire | Curator : Nicole Burisch

from April 21st 2017 to June 10th 2017
I've Only Known My Own

Opening, Friday, April, 21_6 pm to 8 pm

I’ve Only Known My Own is a group exhibition that explores how the materiality of the body is represented through measurements, process, and documentation. In many ways, the performance-based works included in this project reference and respond to the legacies of feminist and conceptual art. They reflect upon how the matter of the body might act as a force that generates its own (il/logical) systems, and how this material embodiment might function as a form of resistance. I’ve Only Known My Own also considers how the material body might intersect with new technologies, be altered or amplified through various modes of communication, take on forms of mediated presence, and activate questions around the presentation and dissemination of ephemera.

Rather than presenting a fixed set of works, the exhibition evolves over the course of its run, with objects, props, and actions being set in motion during the presentation of each of the four performances. First presented in Houston in the spring of 2016, the four artists were invited to revisit, re-perform or reinterpret their earlier performances for this second iteration at Optica, and to bring forward traces or echoes from the first exhibition. By reassembling these artists and works, the second version of the presents further opportunities to consider the role of documentary traces, as well as the evolution of each work in relation to this new site.

Ursula Johnson’s past performances have used traditional Mi’kmaw basket weaving techniques to trace Indigenous bodies’ presence within -and resistance to- legacies of colonial legislation and control. Through strategies of duration and display, her work interrogates outdated ethnographic and anthropological approaches to understanding Indigenous cultural practices. For this exhibition Johnson will present hide, a performance that uses leather tanning processes learned from her family and from YouTube tutorials to explore how material knowledge is transmitted from place to place, and from body to body – substituting a piece of fun fur in place of real animal hide. As in her other works, skillful making is downplayed in favour of an extended and difficult physical exertion, placing her body in close relation to her chosen material, and gradually improving her craft with each subsequent performance. Here, the body in question could equally be that of the animal (its form and qualities determining specific processes), or that of a body-of-knowledge generated through the repeated performance of the task and translated through alternate materials.

In Michelle Lacombe's multi-phase project Of All the Watery Bodies, I Only Know My Own, the artist used a monthly measurement of the volume of blood in her body to determine the placement of a tattooed water line around her calves. Here, the body's cyclical fluctuations became a rule for generating a monthly performative ritual, and a way of temporarily documenting and queering an unused reproductive potential. If, as in Sol LeWitt's well-known pronouncement on conceptual art, "the idea becomes a machine that makes the art," Lacombe’s project reworks this proposition: the fluctuations of the body become the machine that makes the art. In Houston, Lacombe cut into a series of photographs she took of the moon, and then returned the final 13th moon to her body by tattooing a new waterline mark onto her abdomen. At Optica, Lacombe will present The Mother Moon, which begins with the distribution of temporary tattoos that reproduce this circular shape. These will be offered for free until they run out. Once (or if) depleted, she will present a second action that will make the mark permanent.

Nadège Grebmeier Forget's ongoing series One on one’s for so-called fans involves private performances that are then translated through oral accounts and performative re-tellings, and continues the artist’s investigations into the role of documentation and technology in mediating access to her performing body. Walls of Wind: The mirroring and rendering, the latest in this series, takes up the idea of mirroring – responding first to the architectural features of the Houston gallery (and the performance that happened there), and then again to their absence in Montreal. While she initially limits the audience for her work, setting parameters around when and how she is seen, Grebmeier Forget then relinquishes control, relying on her chosen witnesses to transmit (sometimes inaccurately, but always personably) the story of what they experienced. The decadence and generosity of her performances are contrasted with her more austere architectural interventions which use forms that reference gallery spaces and display strategies. These spaces, while empty, are nevertheless invested with the presence of the actions that they once hosted.

Autumn Knight often uses conventions and props drawn from theatre, reworking these into performances that trouble the divisions between gallery and stage, performer and audience. Walking a line between something scripted and spontaneous, her performances centre the roles and presence of Black women, and use dialog, voices, and gestures to uncover and critique structures of power. Her performance Documents involves a public reading of the documentation that serves to authenticate or legitimize citizenship, adapted this time for a Canadian (and more specifically, Montreal) context. Central to this work is a filing cabinet that both holds the props required for the performance, while also serving as a portrait or trace of Knight herself. Knight’s interactive reading of the documents in the files addresses the embodied specificities of race, class, and gender to contest whether these categories accurately reflect the bodies they are meant to represent – while underlining how different audiences and relationships to power may influence this reading.

Central to this project is an interest in experimenting with the forms and sites for presenting performance art, and the ways in which artists, audiences, curators, and writers might work together to do this. In addition to these performances and traces, a small publication featuring documentation from the Houston performances, an extended curatorial essay, and a commissioned text by scholar Mikhel Proulx is also available in the gallery. A round-table between all the participants will provide the opportunity for each to speak in more detail about their involvement in the project, and to discuss their various approaches to performance and documentation. The notion of knowledge that derives from a body, and that may be specific to a particular body is evoked in the exhibition’s title (adapted from the title of Lacombe’s project); it is intended as poetic echo of the themes in these works. The title also speaks to the productive gap between an individual experience of a performance and the traces that (might) be known or circulated afterwards. Together, the works presented for this exhibition offer multiple positions from which to approach these ideas, and open new avenues for considering the materiality and presence of the body within performance.

Nicole Burisch



Programs

Friday, April, 21 2017

-Performance : 12 pm to 6 pm

Ursula Johnson

-Public Presentation : 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm

Autumn Knight

Topological Media Lab and Milieux Copresentation

Concordia University: 1515, Sainte Catherine St West | 11th Floor, Milieux Conference Room EV 11.705



Saturday, April 22, 2017 - 1 pm to 3 pm

-Round-table

In the presence of Nicole Burisch and the artists



Saturday, May 27, 2017 - 2 pm to 4 pm

-Performance

Nadège Grebmeier Forget



Saturday, June 3, 2017 - 2 pm to 4 pm

-Performance

Autumn Knight



PRESS RELEASE (pdf)

Press: DELGADO, Jérôme. "Pourvoyeurs de collectivités" . Le Devoir, January, 14,2017.

Nicole Burisch (Ottawa, Ont./Montréal, QC) is a curator, critic, and cultural worker. With a background working in artist-run centres, her projects focus on discourses of craft, feminism, performance, publishing, labour, and materiality within contemporary art. Her writing has been published by the Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture, .dpi: Feminist Journal of Art and Digital Culture, La Centrale, No More Potlucks, FUSE Magazine, Stride Gallery, the Richmond Art Gallery and the Cahiers métiers d’art :: Craft Journal. Burisch worked as Administrative Coordinator at Centre Skol from 2011-2014, as the Director of Calgary’s Mountain Standard Time Performative Art Festival from 2007-2009, and as Managing Editor for MAWA’s upcoming publication on feminist art in Canada. She was a Core Fellow Critic-in-Residence with the Museum of Fine Arts Houston from 2014-16, and is currently Curatorial Assistant, Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Canada.
http://www.nicoleburisch.com/

Nadège Grebmeier Forget (Montreal, QC) is a visual and performance artist, independent curator and freelance project manager. She has participated in numerous events, festivals, panels, residencies, and exhibitions in Canada, the USA and Europe. Her practice provokes reflection on the act of looking as a form of implicit consumption, as well as the power dynamics within which the gaze operates. Her work is characterized by a preoccupation with re-appropriation, actively exploring the role of meditation on identity construction and fiction. Circulating within the visual and live arts communities, she has most recently exhibited and performed at: Vu Photo, the Musée régional de Rimouski, the Musée d'art contemporain des Laurentides, OFFTA - Live arts festival, CIRCA art actuel, Sophiensale Theatre (Berlin), the HOLD-FAST festival of Eastern Edge Gallery (Newfoundland), Centre d’art Mains d’Œuvres (Saint-Ouen, France) and Friche de la Belle de Mai (Marseille, France).
http://www.nadege-grebmeier-forget.com/

Descendante de la Première Nation Mi’kmaq, Ursula Johnson (Dartmouth, NS) is a performance and installation artist of Mi’kmaw First Nation ancestry. She graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design and has participated in over 30 group shows and 5 solo exhibitions. Her performances are often place-based and employ cooperative didactic intervention. Recent works include various mediums of sculpture that prompt consideration from her audience about aspects of intangible cultural heritage as it pertains to the consumption of traditional knowledge within the context of colonial institutions. Her solo exhibition Mi’kwite’tmn: Do You Remember (hosted by SMU Art Gallery) has recently toured to galleries across Canada. Johnson has been selected as a finalist for the Salt Spring National Art Prize and has twice been longlisted for the Sobey Art Award. She has presented publicly in lectures, keynote addresses and hosted a number of community forums around topics including ‘Indigenous Self¬‐Determination through Art’ and ‘Environmental and Sustainability in Contemporary Indigenous Art Practices.’
http://www.ursulajohnson.ca/

Autumn Knight (New York, NY) Autumn Knight (New York, NY) is an interdisciplinary artist working with performance, installation and text. Her performance work has been included in group exhibitions at DiverseWorks Artspace, Art League Houston, Project Row Houses, Blaffer Art Museum, Crystal Bridges Museum, Skowhegan Space (NY), The New Museum, and The Contemporary Art Museum Houston. Knight has been in residence with In-Situ (UK), Galveston Artist Residency, YICA (Yamaguchi, Japan) and Artpace (San Antonio, TX). She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2016) and holds an M.A. in Drama Therapy from New York University. In 2015, Knight was an Artadia awardee, and she is currently a 2016-2017 artist in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem (NY). Knight’s first solo museum exhibition, In Rehearsal, was recently hosted at the Krannert Art Museum (IL, USA).
http://www.autumnjoiknight.com/

Michelle Lacombe (Montreal, QC) Michelle Lacombe (Montreal, QC) has developed a unique body-based practice since obtaining her BFA from Concordia University in 2006. Purposefully minimalist, her research-based practice begins where gesture, corporeality and mark-marking are entwined and confused. Her work has been shown in Canada, the USA, and Europe in the context of performance events, exhibitions, and colloquiums. She is the recipient of the 2015 Bourse Plein Sud. Her practice as an artist is paralleled by a strong commitment to supporting the development of critical and alternative models of dissemination for live art and undisciplined practices. She is currently the director of VIVA! Art Action, a biennial performance event in Montreal.

Mikhel Proulx (Montréal, QC) Mikhel Proulx (Montreal, QC) is a historian of art and digital culture. His research considers Queer and Indigenous artists working with networked media, and he has curated exhibitions in Canada, Europe, and the Middle East. He is a Canada Graduate Scholar and the Jarislowsky Foundation Doctoral Fellow in Canadian Art History. Proulx is a PhD student in the department of Art History at Concordia University, where he teaches media art histories and Queer visual cultures.
http://www.mikhelproulx.com/




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Nadège Grebmeier Forget, Rendition for Promotion (IOKMO), 2017
Avec l'aimable permission de l'artiste | Courtesy of the artist

Nadège Grebmeier Forget
May 27th 2017
I've Only Known My Own: Performance of Nadège Grebmeier Forget

Nadège Grebmeier Forget’s ongoing series One on one’s for so-called fans involves private performances that are then translated through oral accounts and performative re-tellings, and continues the artist’s investigations into the role of documentation and technology in mediating access to her performing body. Walls of Wind: The Mirroring and Rendering, the latest in this series, takes up the idea of mirroring – responding first to the architectural features of the Houston gallery (and the performance that happened there), and then again to their absence in Montreal. While she initially limits the audience for her work, setting parameters around when and how she is seen, Grebmeier Forget then relinquishes control, relying on her chosen witnesses to transmit (sometimes inaccurately, but always personably) the story of what they experienced. The decadence and generosity of her performances are contrasted with her more austere architectural interventions which use forms that reference gallery spaces and display strategies. These spaces, while empty, are nevertheless invested with the presence of the actions that they once hosted.


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Caroline Mauxion
from November 11th 2017 to December 16th 2017

Caroline Mauxion summons up an abstract world by wilfully turning away from the mimetic function in photography to focus chiefly on the medium’s indicial nature. She considers her own images as objects to be manipulated and arranged in space, and her photographs—based on residua from various projects, trials, explorations—become mutable material. Using in-situ actions, along with interventions upon the image itself or on the light capture, Mauxion initiates a transformative process between her snapshots and the locus of their production or dissemination. Her multidisciplinary approach broaches photography, installation, performance, and video.




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Teja Gavankar
from November 11th 2017 to December 16th 2017

Teja Gavankar’s work takes shape, on the one hand, in the practice of drawing, both on paper and in space, and, on the other, in her spatial interventions. Gavankar subtly transforms urban space by observing its composition, texture, and form, and investing it with a new perception, philosophy, and psychology. She is interested in spaces that comprise evolving situations and that allow for her own self-projection. Of a minimal yet all too compelling nature, these interventions, punctuated by objects from her surroundings, are a reflection of her experience of a given place.




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Arnait Video Collective (Women’s Video Workshop of Igloolik)
Bertille Bak
Lisa Jackson
Yoshua Okón
Helen Reed

Commissaire | Curator : Zoë Chan

from January 20th 2018 to March 17th 2018
Performing Lives

Through the exhibition Performing Lives, curator Zoë Chan is interested in video, especially in its documentary form, in which artists have mixed the codes, drawing both on the informational nature of the medium and on the world of televised and cinematic spectacle. Focusing on various cultural groups—elderly Inuit women, a Rom community in Paris, residential school survivors, Guatemalan migrant workers, Twin Peaks fans—these narrative works reflect on the representation of the subjects in order to go beyond the conventional exhibition of bodies associated with the documentary genre.